New trade events, new image for manufacturing cooperation

AMT, SME to partner on regional shows; Manufacturing USA an umbrella for research.


SME chief executive officer (CEO) Jeff Krause (left) and Douglas K. Woods (right), AMT President, discussing the groups' plan to co-produce five regional manufacturing shows starting in 2017. Image courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE MediaNot all of the big news at IMTS 2016 was made in the exhibit halls. Two important announcements were made at IMTS that will shape future trade events and will impact the U.S. manufacturing initiatives.

The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) and SME announced a major partnership for a series of regional co-branded trade shows focused on the manufacturing technology industry starting in 2017. AMT is the sponsoring organization for IMTS.

"Our intention and goal is how do we ensure the best possible locations for the vendors to show the latest enhancements in technology as well as for the visitors to have easy learning access," said AMT president Doug Woods. The collaboration encompasses five events:

  • Houstec: Feb. 28-Mar. 2, 2017, Houston
  • Eastec: May 16-18, 2017, West Springfield, Mass.
  • Westec: Sept. 12-14, 2017, Los Angeles
  • Southtec: Oct. 24-26, 2017, Greenville, S.C., and
  • Mfg4: May 8-10, 2018, Hartford, Conn.

The retooled events will feature a blend of education, applications and technology innovation, particularly in the areas of digital manufacturing, automation, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Also, each event will feature a mix of topics and technologies that are of specific interest to that region to give the individual event a specific identity that still ties into the broader theme that AMT and SME hope to achieve with this partnership.

"We're not trying to create a mini-IMTS or different IMTS," Woods said. "We're trying to take the best of what SME has created and put some of our input in the mix and replicate that feeling in these shows."

"Our goal today is the same as it was when we first started, but the manufacturing world has substantially changed," said Jeff Krause, the CEO of SME. "We need to create a new generation that fulfill the needs of the manufacturing industry."

That's also the goal behind a rebranding of the network of manufacturing institutes started across the U.S. over the past four years. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker opened the IMTS Show on Sept. 12 with the announcement that the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation would be known as "Manufacturing USA." The move is designed to provide a new look and new approach to the existing group of public-private partnerships that are developing next-generation manufacturing strategies.

"Manufacturing USA captures the geographic reach of a network that spans our country and is positioned to benefit companies of all sizes from coast to coast," said Pritzker. "But more importantly, this name embodies our vision for a unified American manufacturing sector, where the brightest minds and the most innovative companies come together to develop the most cutting-edge technology in the world."

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker opened the IMTS Show on Sept. 12 with the announcement that the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation would be known as Manufacturing USA, which is designed to provide a new look and new approach to the existing gOver the past four years, the Obama Administration has announced nine manufacturing innovation institutes, with up to six more planned by 2017. Among those already in place are the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) in Chicago, the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing in Knoxville, Tenn. and the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Institute, based at Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition at UCLA in Los Angeles.

The institutes have partnered with more than 1,300 companies, initiated 240 research and development projects, contributed to workforce development with a variety of educational programs and stimulated the growth of the regional ecosystem for manufacturing innovation in their particular technology focus areas. More than $600 million in federal funding has been matched by more than $1.3 billion in nonfederal investment.

Compiled from CFE Media reports and industry press releases.

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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

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